UX Diary Part 2 – A Seat At The Table

Dear Diary,

“How do I get my organization to support my efforts for better UX?”

This is a question I face, day in and day out. And I am sure that other UX enthusiasts do too. It can be a really frustrating feeling , knowing that you have the skills and passion to bring better experiences to your users but then knowing that you can’t seem to get your management to share that same vision.

When I was watching the talks by Simon Sinek about going in with a spirit of generosity it all clicked so intuitively like a beautifully designed call to action. I have taken his advice to heart and recently had the opportunity to put it into practice.

My Personal Experience

Many times you will find that management stop short from advocating the integration of UX design into their process because they fear that they would be wasting resources on something that might not yield a good return on investment. To overcome this particular scenario, I decided to give them, a free trial.

Following Simon’s advice I went in with a spirit of generosity and offered to donate my time and effort for a chance to participate in the design and development of a new product that we are building together. Needless to say, this resonated outstandingly with management and earned me a seat at the earliest stages of creating a product.

What better time for UX design to contribute into the process, than right at the beginning? There was an immediate feeling that time and effort were well-spent and the results brought great joy and fulfilment, thus making the whole thing well worth it.

But it did not stop there. By integrating UX design basic practices into our process, everyone involved in product development and project management had a chance to experience first-hand, what exactly UX design is and how it results in an overall better product that will sell more. Designers loved it, managers loved it, and marketing people really loved it.

How to introduce UX best practices

What I learnt from this whole experience is that when introducing UX best practices into the product development process, it is best to stick to the basics as this proved to be highly effective. With this in mind, I formulated my strategy:

  1. Know our users: Obtain the statistics and demographics of the current users (if any) and research the market. See who is using my competitors’ products in my targeted market. Ask around in my organization. My colleagues in the marketing department might already have some helpful information. Speak with the sales and customer care employees and identify any other employee who comes into contact with our customers. If possible get in touch with targeted users themselves.
  2. Know our product’s purpose: The “why?” approach to design keeps users’ needs in mind.
  3. Build user personas: … and user stories. These do not need to be too elaborate but they need to be based on the constant input from others on the team. I’m sure I’d be surprised at the great input that I’ll get. I got a lot of helpful tips from this article.
  4. In God we trust, all others bring data“: …said W.Edwards Deming! So I must bring data. For example I recently had a design request from someone at a more senior level than me that required me to put forward a design idea that I felt is bad for the user experience. I conducted a simple 20 minute A/B test on mockups, whereby I recruited my friends and colleagues (a smile, please, thank you, and an occasional chocolate bar went a long way!), and I got my data. Then I knew if my intuition was right and indeed it was. And better still, I had the data to strengthen my point. But I wasn’t trying to prove that I’m right and he was wrong. It is not a contest. It is a collaboration. Simply presenting the numbers and asking the person with the other idea to collaborate based on the results was the path of least resistance to get the job done right.
  5. Try to make friends with our QA team: .. or whoever our company trusts for testing. Befriend, talk to them about testing for good user experience, offer to help, and provide them with cool resources to use, including low cost user experience testing tools.
  6. Keep the data coming: as it has been known that data-backed decisions are often the most sound ones. Almost every kind of analytical tool that I have used for a website or an app has a free version that I can try out without asking our organization to make an initial investment. Some of my favorites are:

  7. Gather, organize, and utilize this data to make your design moves and to create compelling reports. If you are selling a product then also try to get these numbers. They are what matter the most to your shareholders. And remember to keep your data presentation simple, comprehensive and right to the point. You need to tell a story or convey an idea with your data and the best designs are effortlessly read at first glance.

  8. Remember that it is a business after all: …unless of course you are working with an NGO or a charity (although even these have shareholders and objectives to say the least). At the end of the day you need to learn the language of managers and shareholders. You should be able to show measured results in the way that matter the most for your organization. For most businesses these ‘ways’ take the form of ROI, new customer acquisition, customer satisfaction and loyalty.

The moral of this entry

Going in with a spirit of generosity not only got me a seat at the table where I needed to be to bring UX best practices into our organization, but more importantly it gained me the trust of the people calling the shots. This trust is probably the most important thing for anyone trying to bring UX design into their organization because at the end of the day not everyone is going to fully understand my nerdy talk about heat maps, but they could trust me to deliver the goods.

Finally, I had my first evaluation yesterday. The sit down with my boss was very positive, mainly due to recognition of my efforts outside of the initial work scope and my passion to bring better UX practices to the table.

“For it is in giving that we receive”
St. Francis of Assisi

About this series – UX Diary

As a UX enthusiast and a front-end engineer I have decided to try and truly bring UX best practices to the organization that I work in. UX diary is a small series of 5 articles documenting this journey with all of its lessons and bumps that I am hoping can help and inspire you, fellow UX enthusiasts to adopt and spread UX awareness in your work and organizations. Read the articles by clicking on the links below:

So stay tuned each week and please remember that I would love to hear your questions, thoughts, or suggestions. You can post them in the comments section.

  • Dominic Hurst

    Love this. Can’t agree more especially learning the language that managers speak. It’s taken a few attempts but it works. Make them feel it’s their test from their goals. Create vanity between managers (my site has increased goal x by 20%)

  • Nadim Farah

    Thanks @dominic_hurst:disqus , I’m glade to hear that, be sure to stay tuned for the rest of the series .